I spent the first months of the COVID lock-down in Pennsylvania, doing what I have done for much of my life, downing my favorite comfort foods of cake (with frosting), cookies and ice-cream, until a fateful day in June 2020 when I had a wake-up call. You can read that story here: https://michelesomerville.blog/2020/07/21/the-cookie-diary
I met my weight loss goal, ten months and fifty-five pounds later, on May 9, 2021. I knew that after all that work, it would take a plan to stay on track. Here is how it is going so far: my goal weight was 145 pounds. Metabolism will always take us up and down by ounces at least, other things being equal. For most of the days since May 9th, I have fluctuated between 143-144. My hope is that the goal weight of 145 will be the top end, rather than the bottom end of that fluctuation. So far, so good and that between the ups and downs of vacations, my husband’s health issues, which often send me to comfort food, and just normal life.
Thanks to a lot of learning and practice over the last year, I have been able to develop better habits, and to my surprise a new palette. I continue to weigh in every day, count calories and balance types of food. I have increased my calorie intake gradually, not taking anything for granted. I eat foods that I like and have learned to savor flavors, experiment with foods I had never eaten and enjoy occasional treats, just not daily treats. And although I do not cry very often, I have found that a good cry does me more good than a handful of warm, melty, delicious, chocolate chip cookies.
Vacation ups and downs
Having a plan for vacation food was crucial, especially because while food choices were under my control, food availability, not so much. Part of my plan that went well included bringing along Henrietta (my scale) as a traveling companion; I continue my practice of weighing in most days, and did not want to leave this to chance. Also, we brought a variety of fruit and cheese snacks for the hotels. For this particular vacation, all of our meals were restaurant meals. That proved to be a wild card in this time of gradual opening after COVID.
Fast food is not healthy food, but financially, we generally plan two meals a day to be fast food. But one particular fast food chain is doing drive in only. This practice seems to be consistent across the board for that one chain, but with other chains it varies.
I can do the fast food on vacation thing as long as I can sit down for supper and have vegetables as part of my meal. In saying that, I am not assuming all offerings of vegetables as side dishes are healthy, but part of vacation for me needs to be not having to cook or clean up, so these are the compromises and constraints that were part of staying on plan and maintaining my loss in the face of high-fat, high-salt, fast food, and sit down meals.
There is probably a reason that certain foods are called comfort foods, whether the foods are a sentimental dish your mom or grandmother used to make, or traditional dishes like turkey with dressing, or your favorite kind of pie, or food from your family’s culture. For me, my favorite comfort food is ice cream, or cake with frosting, or both together and almost any kind of bread and butter. My list is long; maybe yours is too. My husband had surgery recently, and picking up fast food on the way home from the hospital is tempting, cookies from the hospital snack bar, also tempting. Leaving the hospital tired and stressed was like running a gauntlet made of sugar and spice.
Rejecting those things does not mean that I have turned into some paragon of virtue or self-control. It means that I have decided to make different choices. I love bagels, and I have a preferred brand, they are often my “go-to” breakfast four days a week or as an occasional evening snack. I love cheese, and we generally have an ounce of Colby jack cheese as part of an evening snack. Those simple foods are important to me and I continued eating them throughout my weight loss. So I am not suddenly splurging on them, but continuing to enjoy them.
I love rich creamy ice creams with lots of flavors, served in a cereal bowl, but I am willing to give that up in favor of maintaining my current size. Right now, and I hope for always, a chocolate Dixie cup ice cream a few nights a week, or an occasional small soft cone at the ice cream shop every few weeks in the summer is good enough.
And then there is bread. Don’t get me started. Well, I did start making my own bread a few months ago and I am learning as I go. I know from my own experience and from what social media friends have said, warm, freshly made bread can be a slippery slope. But I am pretty determined, so I slice and freeze the bread for my own use and weigh it, so that I am enjoying homemade bread, but limiting the enjoyment. I hope to write soon about my adventures in breadmaking so that is all I will say about that here.
I admit there have been times in the last few weeks that I have been afraid. I felt as though I were clinging to the wall of a tall building, for fear of going to close to the edge of reason, and falling off into an abyss made of chocolate syrup. So my first few weeks at goal, I only increased my calories to 1300-1350 daily. Now, two months after meeting my goal, I am pretty much holding at 1400-1500 calories a day and it feels like enough.
After all, this is still a work in progress and while I have learned to overcome emotional eating (for the most part) and practice mindfulness in choices and eating, there are some good habits I have yet to achieve. I am still not walking enough, still not drinking enough water and still, despite everything, forgetting to put my fork down between bites. A work in progress.
Determination and grace, lots of grace
Determination, along with a healthy plan and good support systems, have been key in the success that I have experienced. I try to never take it for granted. Some days, and today was one, that I find I am so hungry for something sugar laden, that I wonder if I have learned anything. Today, I succeeded and grabbed some grapes, counted and logged them along with a glass of sugar free ice tea. There is a bag of homemade cranberry scones on the counter, along with the blueberry scones I made for my husband. Planning on a cranberry scone for breakfast tomorrow and the rest will go in the freezer.
I plan to continue writing about this, charting progress and struggles in the hopes that there is something encouraging in my journey for others. And, it is a good way for me to remain accountable to myself at least. Sometimes, when I am hungry, and reach into the frig and pull out fruit, I wonder, “Who are you?”
I still feel the tug of frosting laden treats, but also know they are nothing but unrequited love. I am learning to love myself more than chocolate cake. ,I am still finding my way, and trying to not take anything for granted. I am thankful and still #Stronger than the Cookie.
Not holding back the tide,
Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
Linking up with Denyse Whelan (#Life This Week) Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share and Esme’s Senior Salon